Braxton-Taylor-Barbour Beast to Be Unveiled Sept. 9; New Menken Song to Follow

News   Braxton-Taylor-Barbour Beast to Be Unveiled Sept. 9; New Menken Song to Follow
 
Pop singer Toni Braxton, television star Meshach Taylor, and actor James Barbour are part of a new regime at Broadway's Beauty and the Beast which will begin performances Sept. 9.
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Pop singer Toni Braxton, television star Meshach Taylor, and actor James Barbour are part of a new regime at Broadway's Beauty and the Beast which will begin performances Sept. 9.

With Braxton's debut, rumors had circulated that Alan Menken would pen a new song for the singer. While it is true that a new Menken song is being worked on, it is unclear whether the piece will be added before Braxton's official opening night, set for some time mid-October, according to a spokesperson at Boneau Bryan-Brown.

Braxton, who will play Belle, is the recipient of five Grammy awards. Her albums have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Braxton's hit songs include "Love Shoulda Brought You Home," "Unbreak My Heart," and "How Could an Angel Break My Heart."

Taylor, best known as the handyman to television's "Designing Women" and for his role in filmdom's Mannequin and Mannequin Two, will play Lumiere, the saucy candelabrum who sings the anthem, "Be Our Guest."

Barbour, the musical's new Beast, played that role in the Los Angeles company of the show. His previous Broadway credits include the role of Billy Bigelow in Carousel at Lincoln Center and Cyrano: The Musical. Beauty recently lost its star Belle when Deborah Gibson, another veteran of the pop charts, left the show on June 28 (she then played Louise in a NJ Gypsy opposite Betty Buckley). Kim Huber now essays the role of Belle. Huber was the understudy to the original Belle, Susan Egan and comes to the show from the Beauty and the Beast touring company.

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Braxton is only the latest singing star to cross over to theatre from the world of pop music. Deborah Gibson has been in Les Miserables, Grease! and Beauty and the Beast. Here are some others:
In GREASE!: Sheena Easton, Debby Boone, Jon Secada, Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Chubby Checker, Al Jarreau, Darlene Love

In SPEED-THE-PLOW: Madonna

In THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE: Linda Ronstadt, Rex Smith, Maureen McGovern

In BLOOD BROTHERS: Petula Clark, Helen Reddy, Carole King, Shawn Cassidy, David Cassidy

In KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN: Vanessa Williams

In LES MISERABLES: Ricky Martin, Melba Moore, Gary Morris

In THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES: Keith Carradine, Mac Davis

In THE ELEPHANT MAN: David Bowie

In THE CAPE MAN: Marc Antony, Reuben Blades

In BALM IN GILEAD: Tom Waits

In THE NIGHT THAT MADE AMERICA FAMOUS: Harry Chapin

In THE THREEPENNY OPERA: Sting

In VICTOR/VICTORIA (tour only): Toni Tennille

In WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN: Steve Lawrence

In GOLDEN RAINBOW: Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme

In CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF: Burl Ives.

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